A Green Fund for Economic Recovery

With the right investment, the green economy will create four times the number of jobs as the fossil fuel industries.
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A new report released last week by the nonprofit Center for American Progress (CAP) shows that the U.S. can create 2 million jobs over two years by investing in a rapid green economic recovery program. The report, entitled "Green Recovery: A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy," shows how an investment of $100 billion in green technologies and industries would create nearly four times more jobs than spending the same amount of money within the oil industry, and would simultaneously reduce national unemployment from today's 5.7% level to 4.4% over just two years. The icing on the cake, of course, would be a marked reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as greener, non-fossil fuel alternatives become more widely implemented.

According to the report, half of the money proposed for the green fund, some $50 billion, would fund tax credits that would assist private businesses and homeowners to finance both commercial and residential building retrofits as well as investments in renewable energy systems. Another $46 billion would be earmarked for direct government spending on public building retrofits, the expansion of mass transit, freight rail and smart electrical grid systems, and new investments in renewable energy. The remaining $4 billion would be held for federal loan guarantees to underwrite private credit extended to finance building retrofits and renewable energy investments.

Bracken Hendricks of CAP told reporters that the $100 billion investment suggested by the report represents a "down payment" on a larger proposed 10-year policy program designed to get the economy out of the doldrums by ushering in a new era of green energy. Another key aspect of the larger program would be the immediate implementation of a cap-and-trade program to drive private investments into clean energy and raise public revenue—which could pay for the proposed $100 billion fund entirely—through carbon permit auctions.

While such a plan may seem "pie-in-the-sky" under the Bush administration, it (or something similar) just could see the light of day under a new president committed to a greener future. Both Obama and McCain have repeatedly talked the talk on the campaign trail about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and facilitating a transition to a greener economy.

Sources: Political Economy Research Institute;